Olalekan Adetayo, John Alechenu, Dayo Ojerinde, Tukur Muntari and Daud Olatunji
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, declared support for the suspended Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Victor Giadom, as the party’s acting national chairman.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja, said Buhari would attend Thursday’s (today) APC National Executive Committee meeting convened by Giadom.
Rather resolving the APC crisis, Buhari’s declaration of his stand threw the party into more confusion as 17 members of the National Working Committee insisted the NEC meeting convened by Giadom, was illegal.
The NWC members also said they would not attend the meeting, insisting that Buhari was blackmailed to support it.
The problem in the APC NWC came to a head on Tuesday last week when the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja upheld the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
At an emergency meeting on the evening of the same day, 17 members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole, appointed a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as acting chairman.
Giadom, in a counter move, together with two other NWC members, addressed a press conference on June 17, when he declared himself as the acting chairman. He backed his action with the judgment of the FCT high court, which in March gave him the go-ahead to be the acting national chairman.
Despite his suspension by two Port Harcourt courts and his replacement as the deputy national secretary, Giadom on Tuesday issued a notice of the APC NEC meeting, which would hold today (Thursday).
But the Ajimobi-led NWC on Tuesday said having been suspended from the NWC, Giadom was not qualified to convene the NEC meeting.
The law is on the side of Giadom as APC acting national chairman – Buhari
But on Wednesday the Presidency said the President had thrown his weight behind Giadom as the APC acting chairman.
Shehu, who disclosed this, said, “The President has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman.
“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the President will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly.”
Buhari doesn’t support illegal NEC meeting – 17 NWC members
But the APC acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama in a statement in Abuja, on Wednesday, said “Our leader, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is renowned for insisting on compliance with our constitution and rule of law.
Disregard Giadom’s notice of meeting, 17 NWC members tell govs, others
“It can, therefore, not be true that Mr President supports the convening of such an illegal NEC by a non-member of APC’s NWC. We urge all to disregard the said notice as neither the NWC nor the NEC has called for such meeting.
“We are constrained to once again react to a purported invitation to a National Executive Committee meeting of our great party; the All Progressives Congress, issued by one Victor Giadom who until the last general elections in 2019 held the position the deputy national secretary of the party.
“Our esteemed members are advised to disregard this invitation because the author and sole signatory of the said invitation is not a member of the National Working Committee of our party, talk more of being an acting national chairman as claimed.
“He had voluntarily resigned in compliance with Article 31(1)(i) of our constitution to contest the position of deputy governor in Rivers State during the last general elections and has not been re-nominated by his zone to return to that office. Further, his non-membership of the NWC has been affirmed by the courts and an order restraining him from parading himself as a member of the NWC was granted against him on June 22, 2020 in the case of Dele Moses and others vs APC (SUIT NO: PHC/360/2020) where the court said inter alia:
“That an order of interim injunction be and is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd 4th and 5th defendants, acting by themselves or through any of their officers, agents, or privies from recognizing or regarding the third defendant/respondent as the national chairman or acting national chairman or deputy national secretary of the first defendant/respondent (the APC) or member of the national working committee of the first defendant pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
We won’t attend Giadom’s NEC meeting – NWC
The Ajimobi-led NWC also rejected the invitation extended to its members to attend the NEC meeting.
The NWC said this in a statement jointly signed by the acting National Chairman, Hilliard Eta, and the acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
‘Buhari was blackmailed’
They said the President was wrongly advised and blackmailed into agreeing to lend his weight to illegality.
The statement read, “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom bothers on illegality and criminality.
“The National Working Committee regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional national executive committee convened by Chief Victor Giadom.
“We believe that attending such a meeting will amount to embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the constitution of our great party. “
Also the party Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We have a constitution which stipulates how our National Executive Committee meeting should be convened. Tomorrow (today) is not far. We will wait to see how far they can go with their plan for the NEC meeting. We all want the NEC meeting but it has to be properly convened according to our constitution.”
But a former APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, disagreed saying the first step to repair the APC had been taken.
Odigie-Oyegun, in an interview The PUNCH, said, “It’s a first step towards repairing the damage. However, let us wait and see the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting.”
However, the Director General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukeman, urged committed leaders and members of the APC to rally behind Buhari to ensure the success of the NEC meeting.
He made the appeal in a statement he issued in Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to him, the NEC meeting which has received the blessing of the President is what the party needs to douse growing tension within the rank and file of the party.
Plateau court orders APC to hold NEC meeting
While chieftains of the party differed on the NEC meeting, a Plateau State High Court on Wednesday granted an interim injunction compelling the APC to hold the meeting today (Thursday).
The court presided over by Justice N.I. Musa granted the four prayers sought by the plaintiff, Mr Letep Dabang, in his motion on notice. The APC, Giadom and Mustapha Salihu were listed as first, second and third defendants respectively.
The plaintiff among other sought “an interim order compelling the respondents, their agents, officers or anyone acting on their behalf to proceed with the NEC meeting of the APC fixed for Thursday the 25th day of June, 2020 or any subsequent day to which it is postponed, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. “
The plaintiff is the Chairman of the Plateau State APC.
The case was adjourned till July 13th, 2020 for hearing.
I have not received invitation to NEC meeting – Abiodun
Some of the APC governors contacted by The PUNCH differed on whether they would attend the NEC meeting convened by Giadom.
When contacted, the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, said he had not received any invitation to the NEC meeting as of 6:45pm on Wednesday.
The governor, who said this through his Special Adviser on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, stated, “At this time, there is no invite and there must be an invite for that kind of meeting. I don’t know what may happen between now and tomorrow, but, as of this time, there is no invite”.
I’m not sure if Sawno-Olu will attend APC NEC meeting – Aide
The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile, said he was not sure he would attend the meeting.
Akosile, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Sanwo-Olu was billed to attend a meeting with the President on Thursday (today) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “I know that the governor is billed to attend a meeting with the President tomorrow (Thursday), but I am not sure if he will attend the APC NEC meeting convened by Gaidom.”
Also, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has received the notice of the APC NEC meeting.
His Special Adviser on Media, Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, confirmed to The PUNCH that Ganduje had received the notice of the meeting.
“The governor has really received the notice of the meeting from the national headquarters of the party. But I cannot confirm to you whether the governor will attend the meeting or not,” he said.
However, a reliable source at the Government House told The PUNCH that there was every likelihood that Ganduje would attend the NEC meeting because Muhammadu would also attend.
APC constitution stipulates seven-day notice for emergency meeting
According to the APC constitution, a NEC meeting can be called by the national chairman or at the request of at least two-thirds of NEC members.
Article 25 of the APC constitution says, “The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or any time decided by the national chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of members of the national executive committee provided that no fewer than 14 days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“Without prejudice to Article 25 (B)(i) of this constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
NEC has 120 members including the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, deputy senate president, the speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, governors, majority or minority leader.
APC alleges plot to burn national secretariat
Meanwhile, the Ajimobi-led NWC has raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some unnamed persons to burn down the APC National Secretariat.
The National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, who raised the alarm while speaking to journalists in Abuja, on Wednesday, also alleged that his life was being threatened.